HFC hosts student political issues convention Oct. 7

DEARBORN – With the 2016 presidential election counting down, Henry Ford College and the League of Women Voters of Dearborn-Dearborn Heights will host the 14th annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center on the main campus, 5101 Evergreen.

Admission is free; the public is invited.

The convention aims to reverse the trends in the lack of political engagement and voter apathy among young voters.

Research shows that there continues to be a dramatic decline in youth political participation in every category, which poses a threat to the democratic process, especially in this election year. If citizens fail to become politically engaged by their mid-20s, studies show that they will not become engaged throughout their lives.

The convention aspires to change that by giving students the chance to make their voices heard on issues. HFC, like many colleges and universities across the nation, encourages students to become more politically active.

“Whatever their politics, students need to get out and let their voice be heard, which is the purpose of this event,” said Anthony Perry, an HFC Political Science professor and convention coordinator.

Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. in the Forfa Atrium. The opening panel – Cities and Public Services and Government: The Stewards of Public Goods – is from 9 to 10 a.m.

The panelists include: Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko; Melvindale Mayor Stacy Striz; Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski; Wayne Mayor Susan Rowe; and Saul Green, former deputy mayor of Detroit.

There will be five concurrent panels from 10:10 to 11 a.m.

The first panel – Public Education as an Essential Tool for Economic Development, Equality and Civil Rights – is in the Berry Ampitheater.

The panelists include: state Sen. Morris Hood III (D-Detroit); state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights); Kathleen Straus, Michigan Board of Education; and David Hecker, president, American Federation of Teachers – Michigan.

The second panel – Public Safety’s Role in Maintaining Public Spaces and Respecting Civil Rights – takes place in the Forfa Auditorium.

The panelists include: U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade; David Gelios, FBI special agent in charge – Detroit Bureau; Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad; Asha Noor, Take on Hate representative; and Denzil McCampell, Detroit Black Youth Movement.

The third panel – Environment & Public Spaces: Public Good Essential for Quality of Life and Democratic Participation – is in the Rosenau Room C.

The panelists include: Mike Berkowitz, Legislative and Political director of the Sierra Club; David Goldstein, Outreach coordinator and Interpretation Division chief of the United States National Parks Service; Abdullah Hammoud of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters; and Melvadean Pearson, Friends of the Detroit River.

The fourth panel – Public Infrastructure: Roads, Bridges, Water and Sewage as a Public Good That Improves the Quality of Life and Essential for Supporting a 21st Century Economy – will be in the Rosenau Rooms A & B.

The panelists include: Moreno Taylor of Priorities Michigan; Kandia Milton, Moses employment center in Detroit; and Aurora Harris, We the People of Detroit, University of Detroit-Mercy faculty.

The fifth and final panel – Globalization, Jobs and Immigrants: Exploring Our Interconnected World as a Way of Enhancing Lives and Opportunities – will be in Room K-14 in the Reuther Liberal Arts Building.

The panelists include: Cynthia Stiller, HFC associate dean of Social Science, Fitness and Arts; Bing Goie, director of the Michigan Office of New Americans in Lansing; Yachun Zhang, a Wayne State International Relations/Global Trade doctoral candidate; Rebecca Thompson, executive director for Good Jobs Now in Detroit; and Frederic Pearson, professor and director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State.

From 11:10 to 11:50 a.m., there will be 20 concurrent workshops spinning out of the panels. From noon to 12:20 p.m., Student Voting Caucuses take place in various assigned rooms.

Throughout the day, students can register to vote at the LWV booth.

From 12:30 to 1 p.m., there will be a panel titled “Making Your Vote Count: Voting Rights Today” in the Forfa Auditorium. The speakers include: Betsy Cushman, LMVD-DH president; and Judy Karandjeff, president of the Michigan LWV.

The final session – Setting the Ballot – is from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Forfa Auditorium. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) will speak.

“Held a month before the most consequential election of our lifetimes, the Student Political Issues Convention is a critical opportunity for young people to come together to discuss the issues and values we all care about and chart a course for the future,” Dinged said. “Too often, young people think their voice doesn’t matter – that they can’t make a difference, but they have a vital role to play in the effort to move our country forward and make our government and our economy work for every American. We need them at the table, and that’s what this convention is all about.”

The convention represents a “critically important chance for students to share their views and concerns regarding the political future of the world,” HFC Political Science Professor Robert Yahrmatter said.

“Our expectation is to help students from throughout southeast Michigan participate in the development of a consensus political agenda that they want elected officials to consider when establishing their legislative priorities.”

This convention also will interactively engage students in a series of concurrent workshops as they work to develop a discourse for their votes at subsequent caucuses and the final session. During this final session, Perry said several political figures are invited to hear from students and to consider student concerns as they campaign or develop public policy.

“This event is important on a number of levels,” Perry said. “First, the activities we have planned provide young people a chance to voice their concerns.

“The convention also gives many students their first opportunity to engage their fellow students and political leaders in the discussion of critical issues that are important to students and their communities. Overall, the convention helps students develop their skills of democratic participation and give them practice at using their political voice effectively.”

For questions and more information, contact Perry at 313-845-6383 or adperry1@hfcc.edu.